Family First Party
|Family First Party|
|Leader||Bob Day AO|
|Headquarters||77 Fullarton Road
Kent Town SA 5067
|Ideology||Economic and Social conservatism,
|House of Representatives|
|SA Legislative Council|
The Family First Party is an economic and socially conservative political party in Australia. It has two members in the South Australian Legislative Council (Robert Brokenshire and Dennis Hood). Bob Day was elected as a Family First Senator for South Australia at the 2013 federal election and will assume his seat on 1 July 2014. Elected to the Senate at the 2004 federal election in Victoria, Steve Fielding failed to gain re-election at the 2010 federal election. His term ended on 1 July 2011.
- 1 History
- 2 Elections and results
- 3 Defections from other parties
- 4 Policies
- 4.1 Family
- 4.2 Housing
- 4.3 Schooling
- 4.4 Disability Support
- 4.5 Fighting Poverty
- 4.6 Employment
- 4.7 Small Business
- 4.8 Tax
- 4.9 Climate Change
- 4.10 Property Rights
- 4.11 Aboriginal Affairs
- 4.12 Life
- 4.13 Marriage
- 4.14 Altruistic surrogacy and same-sex parenting
- 4.15 Asylum seekers
- 4.16 Drugs
- 4.17 Environment
- 4.18 Sexuality
- 4.19 Indigenous Australians
- 4.20 Industrial relations
- 4.21 War in Iraq
- 5 Structure
- 6 Political relations
- 7 Religious affiliation
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 External links
- 10 See also
- 11 References
The party was founded in South Australia in time to contest the 2002 state elections, when former Assemblies of God pastor Dr Andrew Evans became its first Member of the Legislative Council (MLC), winning a seat in the South Australian Legislative Council. A second MLC, pharmaceutical executive Dennis Hood, was elected at the 2006 state election.
In the October 2004 federal election it contested seats all over Australia, generally exchanging preferences with Liberal candidates (but in some seats exchanging preferences with the Australian Labor Party). At that election the party was successful in electing their only federal politician Steve Fielding, Senator for Victoria. He shared the balance of power in the Senate with independent Nick Xenophon and the five Australian Greens in the July 2008 to July 2011 Senate.
In June 2008, sitting MP and former Liberal Party member Dan Sullivan joined as an executive member of the Western Australia State Branch of Family First. When three former One Nation MPs, attended the public launch it fuelled media speculation that they may try to influence the West Australian branch.
Although officially eschewing religious labels, many of its candidates and members are from conservative Christian backgrounds. In the 2009/10 financial year party chairman Bob Day made two loans totalling $405,000 to the Family First Party. Its performance, however in which it gained 4 per cent of the vote in several lower house seats and in the South Australian Senate race - was enough to secure it about $400,000 in Commonwealth election funding.
Glenn Druery's Minor Party Alliance was behind the 2013 federal election preference deal successes with candidate elections on 0.2 percent (Sports Party), 0.5 percent (Motoring Enthusiasts Party) and 3.8 percent (Family First Party). Druery is on the payroll of the Shooters and Fishers Party and assists in organising preference meetings and negotiating preference flows between parties. He had also received regular payments from the Family First Party and the Fishing and Lifestyle Party.
Elections and results
2002 South Australian election
The first election Family First contested was the 2002 South Australian Election. Dr Andrew Evans received a primary vote of 4.02% which, with preferences from other parties, was sufficient to get him elected to one of the 11 seats available in the South Australian Legislative Council.
2004 federal election
Family First picked up 1.76 percent of the vote nationally. Steve Fielding, the lead candidate in Victoria, was successful in picking up the last Senate seat. Although he received a primary vote of only 1.88 percent (56,376 votes), he achieved the 14.3 percent quota required by a run of preferences including those from the Australian Labor Party. The typically apolitical psephologist Malcolm Mackerras stated "The outlandish result occurred in Victoria in 2004 where the Family First party was able to gather tickets from just about everywhere... this is a fluke. And I’ve always referred to Senator Steve Fielding as the Fluke Senator".
The party also came close to picking up other Senate seats in Tasmania (largely due to preferences from surplus Liberal votes) and in South Australia where the then party leader Andrea Mason narrowly missed out (polling 3.98 percent and receiving Liberal preferences).
State elections since 2004
In the 2005 Western Australian election, Family First polled 21,701 votes in the Legislative Council where it contested 34 candidates compared to 57 candidates in major parties. In the 2006 South Australian election, Family First's vote increased to 4.98% in the Legislative Council, and a second Member of the Legislative Council was elected - former pharmaceutical executive Dennis Hood. In several rural and outer metropolitan seats, Family First's vote approached 10% - and in the seat of Kavel, Tom Playford achieved a vote of 15.7%. In the Legislative Council, Family First shares the balance of power with the other minor parties and independents.
In the 2006 Queensland state election, Family First received a primary vote of 7% in contested seats (many seats were not contested), with a high of 14.5% and several other seats posting results of 10%. Queensland does not have an Upper House, and these results were insufficient for any candidates to be elected.
In the 2006 Victorian state election, Family First's vote increased from 1.9% to 4.27% of first preferences, however no candidates were elected.
In the 2012 Queensland state election the party unsuccessfully contested 38 seats.
Federal by-elections since 2004
Following the resignation of Mark Latham and their acquisition of a Senate seat in 2004, Family First contested the 2005 Werriwa by-election and in the absence of a Liberal candidate received 2,890 first preference votes. They had not contested Werriwa in 2004.
As a result of their relatively poor form in the 2007 election, Family First did not contest the 2008 Gippsland by-election, but in a later by-election for the seat of Mayo they won 11.40 percent of the vote but only ran fourth in the absence of a Labor candidate, a total that was only four percent above their vote in the 2007 general election.
2007 federal election
Family First contested the 2007 federal election, in particular seeking to increase its Senate representation. Nationwide, the party received 1.62 percent of the primary vote in the Senate, and 1.99 percent in the House of Representatives, both down slightly on the 2004 result. In Victoria however, both the lower and upper house vote increased by 0.64 percent, to 2.52 and 3.02 percent respectively. No Family First candidates were elected. Sitting Senator Steve Fielding's term did not expire until 2011.
Before the 2007 federal election, Fred Nile criticized Family First for giving preferences (in some states) to the Liberty and Democracy Party, a libertarian political party that as one of its policies wants to legalize recreational drug use, stating "They gave their preferences to the enemy, the anti-Christian party." This was suggested as a reason for their poor election result. Fred Nile's own Christian Democratic Party had also preferenced the Liberty and Democracy Party before any other major party in the Senate.
In 2008, some newspapers claimed that Fielding wanted to "relaunch himself as a mainstream political player, beyond Family First's ultra-conservative evangelical Christian support base." The reports indicated that Fielding had tried to recruit Tim Costello and others around the beginning of 2008 with a view to forming a new party, but had failed to convince them. The revelations came after Fielding changed his position on abortion, after being rebuffed by his party for taking a softer approach. Fielding denied the claims.
2010 federal election
At the 2010 federal election, Family First contested the Senate in all states, but were not successful, with the national vote remaining at around two percent. Fielding's term ended on 1 July 2011, after which the Family First Party no longer had federal parliamentary representation.
The Queensland Family First Senate candidate Wendy Francis created controversy when she compared allowing same-sex marriage to the stolen generations and to "legalising child abuse".
Defections from other parties
The party has benefited from a series of high-profile defections.
- Former South Australian state Liberal minister Robert Brokenshire contested the 2007 federal election for the party, and subsequently won preselection to replace retiring founder Evans in the state Legislative Council. At the 2010 South Australian Election, Robert Brokenshire was re-elected as a Family First candidate for a Legislative Council seat.
- In June 2008, former Western Australian deputy Liberal leader Dan Sullivan announced that he would become the parliamentary leader of the state branch of the party. Three former One Nation MPs have expressed support for the new party. On 14 August 2008, independent (former Liberal) Western Australian MP Anthony Fels joined the Party. At the Western Australian state election, 2008 both Sullivan and Fels stood for seats in the Western Australian Legislative Council, but neither was successful. Fels remained a member of the Legislative Council until his term expired in May 2009.
- Also in June 2008, Bob Randall, a former South Australian Liberal MP and party president joined the party, complaining that the Liberal Party had drifted too far to the "left", and that "Family First is the only truly conservative political force now left in Australia".
- On 3 August 2008 Bob Day, a prominent Coalition fundraiser and Liberal candidate for Makin in the 2007 federal election announced that he was joining Family First. He contested the Mayo by-election, 2008 for the party, gaining 11.4% of the primary vote, but was not elected.
- In New South Wales, former Christian Democratic Party MLC Gordon Moyes became an independent in 2009 for a few months before joining Family First. He was defeated at the 2011 state election.
- In June 2013, former Katter's Australian Party candidate and national director Aidan McLindon joined Family First  and was the lead Senate candidate for Family First in Queensland in the 2013 federal election.
Family First supports policies and programs that strengthen the capacity of families to care for their dependents and contribute to their communities rather than promoting a reliance on government services. Family First also supports and promotes initiatives that enable families to become both socially and economically self-reliant; such as homeownership, adult education, vocational training, employment and health.
Family First aims to increase the affordability of housing by increasing the affordability of land. Family First believes that this should be achieved by removing urban growth boundaries and zoning restrictions; encouraging small players back into the market by abolishing compulsory 'Master Planning'; allowing the development of basic serviced allotments (i.e. water, sewer, electricity, stormwater, bitumen road, street lighting and street signage); privatising planning approvals and removing up-front infrastructure charges.
Family First advocates choice in education and to supporting legislation that provides an equitable distribution of funding to both public and private schools. Family First affirms the right of parents to choose a school for their children whose values align with their own.
Family First also supports giving school principals and school councils freedom to appoint staff and make decisions around school development projects. This is in response to the recent 'Building the Education Revolution' program in which centralised bureaucracies delivered poor value for money results compared to locally managed projects.
Family First supports practical initiatives that enable people with disabilities to be included in recreation, work and community life to the full extent of their ability. This includes advocating for support where support is needed; seeking systemic change where systems fail to offer opportunities for growth and development and ensuring that every citizen is assisted in claiming their human and democratic rights.
Family First's policies are aimed at providing opportunities to develop skills that will enable people to provide for themselves on a sustainable basis. Family First promotes policies and programs aimed at developing the capacity of people to gain employment such as vocational training, apprenticeship, employment placement and literacy programs. Family First also supports initiatives and programs that provide income security and social supports for those who, due to age, disability or illness, are unable to work.
Family First believes that in Australia the biggest determinant of whether or not a person lives in poverty is housing cost. Family First's policies are aimed at increasing the supply and affordability of housing through the means described under 'Housing'.
Family First also supports Australia's foreign aid program with a particular emphasis on support for programs that develop the capacity of communities through projects focused on health, infrastructure, education, clean water, farming and micro-enterprise development.
Family First recognises that while workplace regulations seek to protect the interests of those at work, they obstruct the unskilled and least able from obtaining work. Family First believes that such regulations are not only bad for the economy but are also morally wrong.
Family First aims to increase employment by removing workplace regulations and Awards that price unskilled people out of the job market. Such policy is aimed at combatting what it calls the "welfare reliance" of Australians.
Family First's policies also protect the right of employees and employers to determine what is in their common interests, and support the freedom of those who choose to work differently by moving out of the regulated world of 'traditional employment'.
Family First recognises the immense value of small business in the Australian economy due to the goods and services they offer and workforce that they employ. Family First believes that reducing red tape for businesses is essential in enabling them to put their best efforts into producing necessary goods and services for both domestic and overseas markets.
Family First also believes that taxation arrangements for small business should be such that they provide reward for effort and encourage both the growth of small businesses and their opportunity to employ others.
Family First believes that if the Australian tax system is to offer incentives to be productive, to expand activities, to shift people from welfare to work, to pay tax and invest in the future, then it must be simpler, flatter, low and, in the eyes of taxpayers, a fair and reasonable system.
- Family First believes that the Australian Tax Act, which runs to over 10,000 pages is far too complicated and should be simplified.
- Family First believes that individual Australians and Australian companies can spend a dollar far more effectively and efficiently than the government.
- Family First believes that diverting entrepreneurial energy into tax minimization schemes is a most unproductive use of entrepreneurship.
Family First believes that a 20/20/20 tax system ($20,000 tax-free threshold, 20% flat income tax and 20% flat company tax), would create dynamic changes in economic activity and human behaviour, the result of which would be a substantial expansion of the Australian economy, productivity and investment, and would substantially reduce the size of government.
Family First opposes the introduction of any emissions trading scheme or 'carbon tax' and believes it would be grossly irresponsible to proceed with such a policy that will involve major changes to the Australian economy without first having an independent enquiry e.g. a Royal Commission, which is prepared to listen to scientists who disagree with the current 'climate change doctrine'.
Family First believes that property rights provide the foundation on which many other rights and privileges are exercised and are to be protected. Family First believes that the progressive erosion of the rights of property owners through legislation, heritage listing, water restrictions, native vegetation, rising sea levels, zoning and court decisions is significantly diminishing the opportunities for self-reliance.
Family First believes that if Federal, State or Local governments wish to either acquire a person’s property or limit a person’s right to develop or enjoy a property, then the property owner should be fully compensated for his or her loss.
Family First is against the Native Title Act as it currently stands. While Family First recognises that the recognition of the existence of native title has provided for Aboriginal people new rights in connection with their traditional lands, Family First believes that these new rights have become very much a 'two-edged sword', as Native Title rights do not confer the right to sell, lease, develop or offer the land as security for economic development. The fragile nature of such a right therefore has no capacity to assist in securing a future for Aboriginal people.
Family First recognises that in areas of health, housing, employment, education, wealth, infant mortality and life expectancy, Aboriginal Australians are struggling when compared with non-Aboriginal Australians.
- Community Order
- Workforce Participation
- Home Ownership
- Connecting with the Modern World
Family First believes that the only long term solution is for Aboriginal Australians to move into the modern world and connect with the modern economy. Family First believes that the first step must be the removal from the statute books any law which distinguishes between any Australian on the basis of race or colour.
Family First advocates for the preservation and protection of human life, believing it to be both precious and of inestimable value. Family First opposes any legislation which it considers diminishes the sanctity and value of human life, and are against abortion and euthanasia.
Family First places a high value on marriage as the commitment which forms a foundation for the development of stable and nurturing families. Family First will oppose any legislation it considers will harm or diminish the institution of marriage and will support programs, activities and initiatives that seek to strengthen and promote the benefits to society and individuals of strong healthy marriages. Family First believe marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman.
Altruistic surrogacy and same-sex parenting
In the state of Queensland the Family First has opposed to Premier Bligh's introduction of altruistic surrogacy and same-sex parenting. Family First's official stance on the issue is that "the legislation is weighted heavily against the child. It is clearly about satisfying the desires of adults. No-one has a right to a child. A child is a subject of human rights, not an object of someone else’s rights", with the fact that also Article 3 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child states: ‘In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.’
Family First suggests that "The proposed legislation will deny to some children their fundamental rights to both a father and a mother". Causing concern in and amongst the community regardless of political affiliation. Family First's comments on the legislation have been to the extant that "While we understand the desire of adults to have children, we should not be placing those desires above the rights of a child. Children are not commodities and their interests should always come before the desires of adults. This is a form of social engineering and experimentation with children which would undermine the natural family in a way that would be of great concern to many people in this State. The new laws would not discriminate against same sex couples but rather discriminate against the right of a child to have both a mother and a father."
Family First "recognises the importance of ensuring well managed immigration programs that, while supporting Australia’s interests, are also compassionate and supportive of families". Family First supports fast on-shore processing for asylum seekers. In 2006, Federal leader Steve Fielding voted to oppose the Howard Government's offshore processing legislation.
As of 2009 onwards Australia has seen an increase in asylum seekers and resulting from this Family First, along with other political parties have questioned the government on the growing number of arrivals. In a recent trip to Christmas Island, Family First's Steve Fielding has told the public that conditions on the island's detention center is more like a hotel and is ready to burst. Family First has been lobbying government for a change of tactic, as the influx of asylum seekers has public opinion changing rapidly over the issue.
Family First supports drug education programs for children from the earliest years of school and throughout their schooling. They advocate supporting programs focussed on rehabilitation and recovery for users and for prison based programs to address drug use. Family First views injecting rooms as an expensive and ineffective means of responding to those with drug addictions.
In the 2006 Victorian election, Family First advocated several positions that the Australian Conservation Foundation viewed as non-environmental. These positions included the construction of new dams to increase water supplies, arguing for a reduction in fuel taxes, arguing against cuts to existing logging agreements, and supporting continued access to public lands for "recreational fishing, shooting and hunting".
In the 2004 federal election the party directed preferences to the Coalition ahead of Labor except in the seats of Brisbane and Leichhardt. The party's lead senate candidate in Queensland, John Lewis indicated that the reason was the public advocacy on gay issues of the Liberal candidates for those seats.
In 2006, the two SA Family First MLCs voted against the Statutes Amendment (Domestic Partners) Bill.
Family First was the first party in Australia to nominate an Aboriginal woman, lawyer Andrea Mason, as party President. The party did hope to attract a large Aboriginal vote in South Australia where Andrea Mason was touted as possibly the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to parliament.
Although Family First's policy on indigenous Australians does not specifically address the Stolen Generation, Mason has said: "I think there is a cobweb, there is a veil over our country... in terms of this unresolved issue... I think that there will be a significant change in the way we perceive ourselves and our relationships with each other when there is an apology made to the stolen generations".
Family First was opposed to some aspects of the Howard government's Australian Workplace Agreement measures, campaigning against the measures in the Federal Senate, and voting against the 2005 WorkChoices legislation. In his Maiden Speech, Senator Steve Fielding argued for a fairer work / rest / and 'family time' or leisure balance in opposing the measures.
War in Iraq
Family First believes that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was wrong because diplomatic avenues had not been exhausted, but that having participated in that invasion Australia is now obliged to protect Iraqis and Australians in Iraq through a military presence.
Family First is incorporated as a Company limited by guarantee and managed by an Executive Committee comprising the Board of Directors. Decision making is tightly held within the executive group, including the capacity to elect new members to the executive, determine party policy and ratify candidate pre-selection. A National Conference occurs once every two years, with delegates from state party licensees. Federal and State branches have Annual General Meetings that are open to all members.
Family First and the Australian Greens are often at odds, with Family First often referring to the Greens as "extreme" in their media statements. The two parties are in competition for Senate preferences, particularly from the Labor Party, and ideologically opposed on many issues. In the 2006 Victorian election, Family First's limited television advertising campaign specifically singled out the Greens for criticism.
Relations between Family First and Fred Nile's Christian Democratic Party (Australia) are strained by the need to compete for the same group of voters and to secure Senate preferences, particularly from the Liberal Party of Australia.
Family First co-founder Pastor Andrew Evans was the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Australia for twenty years. In the 2002 South Australian election and the 2004 Federal Election, a number of Family First candidates were church members. In New South Wales, 11 of their 23 candidates for the 2004 federal election were from an Assemblies of God church, the Hawkesbury Church in Windsor
South Australian Family First Member of the Legislative Council Dennis Hood, the party's state parliamentary leader, is a member of the Rostrevor Baptist Church. When Sunday Mail columnist Peter Goers stated that Hood was an anti-evolution Creationist, Hood did not deny this in his response, while he did attempt to set the record straight on issues of policy.
Family First's preferencing agreement with the Coalition in the 2004 federal election led Barnaby Joyce, the National senate candidate for Queensland, to publicly slam the party the day before the election, calling them "the lunatic Right", and stating that "these are not the sort of people you do preference deals with". Joyce's comments came in response to a pamphlet published by one of the party's Victorian Senate candidates, Danny Nalliah who in his capacity as a church pastor had criticised other religions and homosexuality.
"The party is not a church party or an Assembly of God party, nor is it funded by AOG churches. It does see itself as socially conservative, with Family Values based on Christian ethics. Like any main-stream party we do not have on record the religious affiliations of any of our members. The Board of Reference in South Australia includes business-people, members of the medical profession, as well as ministers and people from Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Uniting and other church groups. The rapid national growth of the party leading into this election and the late decision to contest in all seats possible, has meant that in some states there are candidates, with strong family values, who have been introduced to the party through the personal relationships they have from their involvement in community/church networks".
By August 2010, the party maintained its non-denominational stance and affirmed its affinity towards Christianity in stating "Family First in 2010 is independent of any church or denomination...like so many other Australian institutions, at Family First our Christian heritage is something we are both proud of and grateful for."
- Margaret Simon: Faith, Money and Power: What the Religious Revival Means for Politics: North Melbourne: Pluto Press: 2007
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